OtherSpeak is an opportunity for Confessions readers to share approved content of their choice. This post was submitted by Anna L. Martin. (And by the way, I love when you guys take my teasing titles and write real stories to go with them.)
Anna says, “I live in Perkins, Oklahoma with my husband of nine years and our four young children. We have three boys and a girl, this newest addition like the pretty red cherry on top of our already delightful family.” She writes…
Thirty pounds, I thought,
when I realized I was with child.
I only want to gain thirty pounds.
Surely, this was doable.
As fall faded into winter
I crossed the halfway date in pregnancy.
But the pounds piled up faster
than the weeks.
Five days of Christmas cost me six of them.
(And I thought I had eaten responsibly,
savoring the season but not indulging.)
Something needed to change
or I would bulge with eighty
(This happened with my firstborn.
No. I am not diabetic
nor did I have gestational diabetes.)
I downloaded a calorie counter.
I cut most carbs and sugars.
Fat-free milk companioned my bran cereal
while my children drank whole.
I sautéed spinach–
heaps and heaps of spinach–
with onion, relishing the warm and punchy flavor
while they ate sandwiches.
Oh, how I wished for a sandwich
in all its unabashed everyday glory!
Instead, I sprinkled my cheese on spinach
and tossed my ham with salad.
Some days, I cried.
Other days, I felt so empty
that I guiltily ate the crusts
trimmed from my toddler’s grilled cheese.
Suppers, I ladled out even portions
of beans and rice,
then filled my own plate with beans.
But salsa failed to fill the hollow
where rice belonged.
Other nights, I took chicken and veggies,
dreaming of baked macaroni
once Baby arrived.
I hoarded the spoonful of sugar
in my morning cup of coffee,
unwilling to relinquish
that small moment of comfort.
Afternoons, I took it
with a careful dash of cream.
Sometimes I splurged. Sometimes
I thought Surely this won’t matter.
I was so hungry.
I dreamt of breakfast
when I laid me down at even
and miser-like, tallied calories at dawn
while I arranged the menu for the day.
Between meals, my mind worked constantly:
advising, devising, contriving
how to fit in the most food with the least fat.
We ate fresh during this pregnancy.
Our grocery bill reflected the influx
of produce, colorful and expensive.
Yet an orange is not the same as ice cream;
salad does not satisfy like pizza.
Winter drug its feet for me,
each day a week, each week a month.
Our family read aloud, the magic of words
wiling away the long dark evenings.
But words pair well with other things:
my family caressed cups of cocoa and I,
the cold arms of the rocking chair,
the reminding bulge of my belly.
I bloomed with spring. Yea, I blossomed
as I passed my goal. Thirty became thirty-five
and on my due date, I stopped dating the scales.
If Baby wished to be late,
I did not wish to know what it would cost me.
Twelve days it went,
twelve extra days of waiting
not just for nine months’ worth of fruit,
but also, for a plate of dinner,
filled with all the food groups.
On the final day of my stringent self-denial,
I brought forth a child
—a girl child—
who dropped the scales six ounces scant
of twelve pounds.
– Anna L. Martin